Apple recently discontinued its standalone Thunderbolt display, which sucks because it was one of our favourites. To soothe the wound, here are some of the best monitors we've found to replace Apple's dearly departed display, most of which offer similar features without the price tag.
What We Loved About the Old Thunderbolt Display
The old Thunderbolt display had a lot going for it, so we wanted to find replacements that offer some of the same advantages as Apple's monitor. Here are some of the criteria we looked for when making our picks:
- 27+" Display: The Thunderbolt display didn't skimp on the screen real estate. We looked for monitors that were at least as large as Apple's model.
- Integrated Speakers: You may prefer to use your own separate speakers, but having a pair built into your monitor can be handy and cut down clutter.
- Extra Ports and USB Hub: The existing Thunderbolt display had a selection of ports so you could connect your peripherals directly to it, and clean up the cables running behind your desk. Any replacements for it should also offer similar connection options
- 2560 x 1440 (or 4K) Screen Resolution: While many iMacs have Retina screens, the Thunderbolt display never graduated past 2560 x 1440. We've included some 1440 displays below, but we also included some forward-looking 4K models if you want to be on the cutting edge. Not every Mac supports 4K output yet, so check this list to find out if you can handle it before buying a 4K display.
- A Cheaper Price Tag: While plenty of people were willing to shell out $1599 for Apple's 27" display, no one wants to spend extra if they don't have to. Ideally, a replacement monitor should feature most of the advantages as the Thunderbolt display at no more than half the cost.
Unfortunately, finding one display that has all of these features in one is a tall order. For now, you can still buy what remains of Apple's Thunderbolt Display stock, but once it's gone, it's gone. In its place, here are some competent alternatives.
The Dell UltraSharp U2715H Has Great Picture Quality and a USB Hub
The Dell UltraSharp U2715H ($719) packs a 2560 x 1440 LED-lit display into a 27" frame. The Wirecutter rated it the best 27" monitor in the course of their testing. It comes with two HDMI ports, one Mini DisplayPort and a USB 3.0 hub with five ports, including one that supports battery charging for your mobile devices. The display also comes with an adjustable stand that allows you to position the monitor however you need it. It doesn't have MagSafe connections like Apple's Thunderbolt display (which makes sense since MagSafe is proprietary), and it also doesn't have built-in speakers. Those minor differences aside, the U2715H is the closest thing you can get to the retired Thunderbolt display, and at half the price.
The Dell Ultra HD P2715Q Steps Up to 4K
If you're ready to make the upgrade to 4K, the Dell Ultra HD 4K P2715Q ($899) is an obvious step up from the U2715H. This monitor features the same USB 3.0 hub with five ports, including one for charging batteries, so you don't lose any bells and whistles by trading up. You can also check out the P2415Q which is only 24", but at $669 it's a super cheap way to get into the 4K game.
The ASUS PB278Q Has an IPS Display and Built-In 3W Speakers
If you care about colour accuracy, the ASUS PB278Q ($629) should appeal to you. This monitor has a 27" 2560 x 1440 PLS/IPS panel and supports HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 and Dual-Link DVI inputs. AnandTech praised it for its good contrast ratio and sRGB accuracy. It also comes with two built-in 3W speakers, which won't necessarily impress any audiophiles, but if you want a monitor that doesn't need separate speakers, it's a handy addition.
The BenQ GW2765HT Is a High Quality Budget Monitor With Blue-Light Filtering
If you'd rather save money than spring for a ton of options -- and if your computer doesn't support 4K -- the BenQ GW2765HT ($569) is one of the cheapest alternatives we've found. It has a 27" 2560x1440 display with a set of built-in speakers. BenQ also allows you to adjust the blue light levels in the monitor directly to help reduce eyestrain. For users of f.lux or those who wear computer glasses, having this feature built-in might be worthwhile.
All of these monitors are great, and they all costs hundreds of dollars less than Apple's now-discontinued Thunderbolt display. You can also check out our roundup of the best 4K computer monitors if you want to branch out a little more.